Acclaimed Americana/Gospel artist Mike Farris releases The Night The Cumberland Came Alive today on Entertainment One Music. The 6-song EP commemorates and celebrates the rebirth of Nashville, a city and its surrounding communities devastated by a "1,000 year" flood on May 1, 2010.
The project was recorded just weeks after the flood, as the people of middle Tennessee regained their civic pride and rallied to help their neighbors and rebuild. The Night The Cumberland Came Alive features an all-star cast of musicians including: Sam Bush, Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart), Ketch Secor and Gill Landry from Old Crow Medicine Show, Byron House (Robert Plant), as well as Ann, Regina and Alfreda McCrary (The McCrary Sisters), Derrek Phillips and Eric Holt from Farris' own Roseland Rhythm Revue.
The Night The Cumberland Came Alive - the first of Farris' Rose Memorial Fund projects, an ongoing charitable outreach in memory of his long time manager and friend Rose McGathy - rolls out a decidedly pre-war Americana sound while delivering a hopeful message of restoration.
"Stylistically, pre-war American music has long been a passion of mine," Farris says of the project. "Before the flood, we'd been searching for songs that would evoke the struggle and the victory of the working class, a sound rising up out of flesh and bone, of spit and spirit. But then, as a city, we were hit square in the gut by this unbelievable flood. And that sound meshed with the spirit of resurrection we saw rise up all over this area. When we gathered in that historic church to lay it all down, what happened was beyond our imaginations."
The title track's lyrics deal directly with the flood, and Farris penned "Dear Lazarus" along with Ketch Secor just days before the recording.
According to Mike, "Playing these songs—sight unseen, without so much as a lead sheet—and with such a dream team of musicians was the thrill of a lifetime. You can hear the passion. You can feel the love in the room. And I'm thrilled to release it to help this community get back on its feet."
This release comes hot off the heels of Farris' recent GMA Dove Award for Best Traditional Gospel album of the year for 2009's SHOUT! Live, a sweat-drenched document of his Sunday Night Shout residency dates at the legendary Station Inn in Nashville. The EP is also a continuation of the musical and spiritual journey that Farris began with his 2007 release, Salvation In Lights, which contributed to him receiving the 2008 Americana Music Association's New & Emerging Artist of the Year award. The music is steeped in traditions explored on that record and widens the lens of the American treasure that it represents - roots, gospel and blues.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the EP will be used to benefit the Downtown Presbyterian Church's ministry to the homeless in Nashville, which seems fitting as the record was recorded in less than a day at that historic building.
Mike Farris plans on doing select dates to showcase the material on the EP in addition to performing monthly with The Roseland Rhythm Revue as part of his Sunday Night Shout residency at the Station Inn this fall. For more information on Mike Farris, go to www.mikefarrismusic.net.
Partial proceeds benefit flood relief and recovery efforts through the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund, a component fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, to help the region recover from the devastating floods of May 2010. The Community Foundation, a charitable organization enhancing the qualitity of life in Middle Tennessee, responds in times of disaster to connect generosity with the immediate and long-term needs of the community.